The big


Alistair Anderson. concertina maestro and Northumhrian piper is enthusiastic about l’enny ('allow's cello in

Syncopace. his all-instrumentalnew


A hundred years ago the ‘hig fiddle‘ was still common in dance hands. In the '30s. tamoUs virtuoso violinist Scott

Skinnerreminiscedabout ' the nightsspentearrying

the instrument ten miles and back over Aherdeensltire hills when. as a young apprentice. he started playing ‘hass' to a flute and fiddle.

Alistair notes that ‘at Beamish Museum recently. about half of the old photographs of hands in the area had a cello w ith the fiddles. squeeze boxes and other instruments. But no one. or \ ery few people. can now play the style. It has to he played I} rically of course. but with percussive attack when necessary —- it's easy for the cello to get too sweet at the bottom. But there could he a considerable role again for the cello in traditional music.'

Fiddler in the hand is (‘huck Fleming. w ho. with Aly Bain. was one of the extremely talented and somewhat wild young players who appeared on the Scottish scene at the heginningofthe 'Ttls.

.-\listair feels that

l’leming has matured oy er 2 hisyearsspent inthe .\'orthoflingland.

(bucks a great fiddle player. \ery controlled

: stillhutwithanedge. .-\nd he's a good guitarist. we

f usethatquiteahitinthe

; hand. The fourth member : isMartinDunnonflute

i and whistles.another

i greatplayerthatl‘yc

worked with a lot. "l‘unes l‘ve written. I

; arrange for the group. and 1 thetraditionalones.are

arranged by the whole

hand. The music hasa


bias. with a lot ot harmony lines. but still sounding traditional. The soil of thing that happens at a session \\e'\eorganised it a hit but hope \s e keep thatsortolesciteinent (Norman(‘halmcrsj

St Ilt‘U/)(l( ('plut Illt’ (i/uwou .‘l rly (it'llll’i'rlll I'I!.37

32 The List 27 September—ll) October 1991”-

Torch song eulogy

For some perverse reason, lcan't wait to hear Alison Shaw’s speaking voice. How does someone who sings like a hiccupping nightingale on helium trapped in some industrial machinery actually speak? Or does she speak at all? Maybe she communicates through tremulous waves at bruised emotion. Impishly, I anticipate a macho drawl weighed down with heavy regional intonation, but no, the Cranes’ vocalist

' is but an ordinary gal and her hesitant ' girly tones indicate that the leap to her

singing voice can be mastered with the minimum of aliectation. Which may explain why, when accused at that sell-same heinous crime, she responds, stunned, ‘Atlected? I don’t know whatto say to that.’

Pretension is, however, a criticism she can answer, not just for hersell but lorthe rest otthe band. ‘I don’t personally leel that relaxed, maybe that’s what comes across. It’s not an everyday thing to do those sort ol songs, but I know we’re serious and truthlul about what we're doing.’

This is a debate to confound and polarise the masses. In some quarters

Q at the music press the Cranes are

afforded such unmitigated praise as to render their collection at complimentary clippings a tome

weightierthan ’WarAnd Peace’ and ‘Watership Down’ put together, while other journo sectors have prelixed the

band’s name so frequently with ‘the

appalling’ that countless punters have

i mistaken the insult lortheir lull name.

Cranes’ aticionados will have switched off in disgust by now, because

3 categorically every piece of prose ? devoted to this band commences with a

discussion about Alison’s vocal technique and ends on some abstruse emotional level with the writer’s leelings in response to a Cranes record rather than an attempt to describe it.

This is simply because the

atorementioned elements are the most

tangible things to arise from the Cranes

music. Yes indeed, humble mortals, tile itsell is simplerto understand than the Cranes. Dnlyjoking. Dram l? (Fiona Shepherd)

The Cranes play King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow on Fri 4.

; Wagon


Can J. Mascis’ reputation as rock’s original couch potato remain intact?

Not only did he play nearly all the

instruments on this year's acclaimed DinosaurJr LP, “Green Mind’, takes on production jobs (including Sonic Youth, whose Thurston Moore described Mascis as the closest he’s met to an American genius), but he’s linished his tirst soundtrack for a lilm that’s opening later this year, going so tar as to play a cameo role.

‘And since we’ve been signed to a major label, he does all the dealings,’ adds drummer Murph. Working with Mascis is, he says, ’Dilticult. But good. Like having a really cool boss.’

Despite being the prime inspiration for a legion at new bands, DinosaurJr don‘t keep up with them all.

‘Dn MTV,’ says Murph, ‘there’s a show called “120 Minutes”, and I see a lot of new bands on that I’ve never

heard at belore. There seems to be a lot

of new stutl coming out, and I think part at the reason is that in the States a lot at independent labels are tolding and the

; majors are opening up little pockets that are taking over where the

independents were. A lot at bands are


getting more exposure now, because they’ve got majors putting money into them.’ A situation they‘re beneliting from as well, thanks to their deal with WEA.

Murph and Mascis are the only remaining members at the original Dinosaur. Drietly last yearthey had an extended line-up with Don Fleming and Jay Stevens ol BALL.

‘We did one single, “The Wagon”, and it didn't work out because I thinkJ has a really specilic idea at what he wants to do, and they had their own specilic ideas, and the two just wouldn’t mesh, so it was better keeping them separate. And it’s worked out, because now Gumball are here.’ (Alastair Mabbott)

Dinosaur Jr play the Barrowland, Glasgow on Sun 29.

New horizons

Kenny Mathieson explains why saxophonist Bobby Watson with a little help from his friends

g —is finally gettingthe acclaim he deserves.


when alto saxophonist Bobby Watson dubbed his l Iorizon quintet‘s last album I’osr-Illormm Bop. he did so half-jokingly and half-seriously. The more he thought


about it. however. the more he came to realise that the tag actually did say v

something about the musical aspirations ofthe band.

‘People were always asking me what it was we were playing. sol said. Well. let me think ofa name. It‘s Post-Motown Bop! It sounded silly. but the more I thought about it. the more I thought it really is what

we are doing. That is where we are in history. I grew up listening to all that great Motown stuff. and it has had an

effect on the way we think about rhythm.’

There is. however. a lot more of a post-bop than obviously post-Motown feel in Horizon's scintillating music. Watson now co-leads the band with drummer Victor Lewis. a working collaboration which goes all the way back to 1979. when they would jam together at l-liram Bullock’s New York apartment.

When Lewis was looking around for a more developmental project to augment his constant sessions as super-starjazz drummer. Watson seemed an obvious choice of partner. The saxophonist had been building a major reputation among his fellow musicians and the more discerning jazz listeners for a decade. and was long overdue the wider audience his music demanded.

It has take‘tn some time for him to throw offthe straight-ahead bop tag which stuck to him after his early stint with Art Blakey"s Jazz Messengers. Watson plunged directly into hard hop straight from college in 1977. at a time when the music was at its lowest ebb in public esteem. a position which reversed dramatically in the 80s. He had moved to New York from the University of Miami. but unlike schoolmates Pat Metheny. Jaco Pastorius. and Hiram Bullock. refused to be sucked into the fashionable fusion scene. Instead. he found himself in an unexpected

alliance with the most famous hard-hopper ofall.

’I moved to New York in August. and I met Art Blakey in October. and he asked me to join the hand. which is very fast for New York. I

l l 2'